COLLEGEVILLE, PA – A Collegeville restaurant and its owners must pay $268,660 in back wages, liquidated damages and punitive damages to satisfy a consent judgment obtained by the U.S. Department of Labor after an investigation into the employers’ illegal pay practices.The action follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division that found that Aston CC LLC, operating as Vincent’s Pizzeria & Grill, and owners George El Roueiheb and Vicken Mouchlin, willfully violated federal law by failing to pay kitchen workers time and one-half for hours over 40 in a workweek. The division also determined the employers paid a cashier and delivery drivers for overtime hours separately in cash but failed to pay the required overtime rate. The employers also did not maintain time and pay records for employees they paid fully or partially in cash. Investigators also found that the restaurant violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s anti-retaliation provision by firing three employees who complained to the employers about their overtime pay practices. The consent judgment requires them to pay $9,000 in punitive damages to be distributed to the affected employees for the unlawful retaliation. During its investigation, the division also discovered the restaurant and its owners employed three children to work in occupations defined as hazardous for young workers. Specifically, the employers tasked a 17-year-old and a 15-year-old to operate a meat slicer, and two 17-year-olds to operate a vertical dough mixer. In addition, the employers allowed one child under 16 to work more than 8 hours when school was not in session, another FLSA violation. Investigation also concluded the employers failed to maintain records of the dates of birth of employees under age 19 and daily and weekly hours worked for three children. “The Fair Labor Standards Act does not permit employers to deny overtime pay or jeopardize the safety of young workers,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director James Cain in Philadelphia. “Food service industry employers must comply with federal wage and child labor laws to avoid violations like the ones found in this case. Learning new skills in the workforce is an important part of growing up, but we must protect children and make sure their first jobs are safe and do not interfere with their education or well-being.” In addition to the back wages and damages, the judgment entered by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania requires Vincent’s Pizzeria & Grill, El Roueiheb and Mouchlin to pay $9,323 for the child labor violations and $6,657 in civil money penalties for the willful overtime violations. The judgment also requires the employers to comply with the FLSA’s anti-retaliation, child labor, overtime and minimum wage provisions in the future. “We will hold employers legally accountable when they fail to comply with federal laws that protect workers’ rights to their full wages and ensure young employees work during permitted hours in safe jobs,” said Acting Regional Solicitor of Labor Samantha Thomas in Philadelphia.The YouthRules! initiative promotes positive and safe work experiences for teens by providing information about protections for young workers to youth, parents, employers and educators. Through this initiative, the U.S. Department of Labor and its partners promote developmental work experiences that help prepare young workers to enter the workforce. The Wage and Hour Division has also published Seven Child Labor Best Practices for Employers to help employers comply with the law.Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Employers and workers can call the division confidentially with questions, regardless of where they are from. The department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages through the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for iOS and Android devices – free and now available in Spanish – to track hours and pay.
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